Knowing Indonesia: Intersections of Self, Discipline and Nation
An emphasis on understanding environmental politics as geographically and historically situated i. A major contribution of early political ecology was the recognition that the prospect for land degradation was not predictable simply from the level of human demand on natural resources human population, livestock population, consumption, wealth, etc. Ecological response to resource extraction exhibits spatial heterogeneity, nonlinearities, and threshold effects, which require the political ecologist to engage seriously with ecological dynamics in order to understand society-nature relations.
Moreover, the nature, rate, and spatial extent of ecological change are seen to matter in the unfolding politics surrounding the environment. Walker Moore ; Peluso and Watts ; Schroeder b. Ecological processes are shaped by geographic and historical context. The reestablishment of a forest, the response of grasslands to grazing, and the mainint ro duct io n 7 tenance of biodiversity all are strongly dependent on the ecological history and the surrounding landscape matrix of any site.
Along with this commitment to context is the ambition to relate local processes to broader social and ecological changes. The common emphasis of seeking causal connections between global or regional changes to local resource-use decisions is one of the most appealing and ambitious characteristics of political ecology. While the role of markets as intermediate networks has been a major emphasis in political ecology work, there is a growing interest in the global circulation of knowledge and its impact on local society-environment relations e.
Scholars taking a political ecology or related approach have also contributed to nuanced 8 mar a j. Moore ; Mitchell ; J.
Scott The links between political-economic subordination, vulnerability, and environmental mismanagement have remained major foci of political-ecological analysis. Political and cultural ecologists have sought to illuminate, translate, and in some cases champion local understandings of the environment Carney ; Escobar ; Fairhead and Scoones ; D. Moore ; Peluso ; Sundberg ; Zerner Moreover, new trends in international conservation and development emphasizing participation and decentralization of resource management authority have made the politics surrounding divergent knowledge claims more obvious e.
These trends have led to two impulses to de-essentialize environmental knowledges through more in-depth, critical engagements with knowledge production and circulation. Social power that shapes on-the-ground impacts operates in the realms of knowledge production and circulation as well often far from the place of application.
Therefore, to fully analyze environmental politics, political ecologists need to not see divergent knowledge claims as the starting point for politics but instead seek to understand how these knowledge claims are constructed and travel to the places of interest. The traditional tools of political ecologists are best suited for analyzing how the applications of knowledge, markets, capital, labor, and political power in particular contexts affect local society-environment relations.
These tools are most appropriate for understanding the construction of landscapes and the circulation of commodities and wealth through markets, and power and authority through governance structures.
Political ecologists have therefore increasingly looked toward STS scholarship for ways to de-essentialize environmental knowledges through the adoption of tools and concepts that allow more productive analysis of the production and circulation of these knowledges. These new areas of inquiry will be discussed more fully after a brief review of STS scholarship as it relates to environmental politics. This has been highlighted in different ways by different spheres of STS. Lynch , ; Pickering ; as related to epistemic cultures Knorr-Cetina ; as a part of cultural style and accepted norms Traweek ; and through long-distance networks of people, animals, objects, and institutions Callon ; Latour , , ANT provides a framework for analyzing the production of knowledge as occurring through relational networks, where objects e.
One could, as such, follow the creation of facts along such relational networks. ANT has proved useful for encouraging an investigation into the role of nonhuman objects including animals in the creation of knowledge about nature, and for articulating the complex twists and turns that knowledge creation takes along interrelated networks.
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It has, however, also been critiqued in many ways, even from within STS see Law Critics point to the simplistic portrayal of all objects as equal agents in knowledge construction, and to the lack of attention to larger social and political relations i. A more thorough interplay of political ecology and STS has the potential for creating a more complex topography of power-laden networks imbued with social relations that are vertical and horizontal in nature see discussion below.
The notion of boundary objects has been helpful in understanding how certain concepts or technologies travel across diverse settings, enabling negotiation. The boundary-object concept has expanded to include boundary institutions or organizations and boundary infrastructures—terms used to discuss objects and embedded institutions that cross larger scales than boundary objects might.
When a standardized package gains momentum, it can seem like the only game in town e.
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This new vocabulary rejects traditional boundaries and disrupts ontologies. Yet other work in STS has focused on boundaries—how they are policed on the one hand i. This language has become particularly useful in not giving primacy to either nature or society, either science or policy, as science studies has become more engaged with policy debates, as elaborated on below.
In the process, several important arguments and areas of inquiry have arisen, all which intersect and overlap with many of the questions being addressed by political ecologists. Expertise is awarded, challenged, and contested differently in different contexts.
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Knowledge travels circulates through translations, packaging, and networks. Science and society are co-produced. Knowledge is inherently political. Despite these contributions, the relevance of STS work to the myriad of contexts through which environmental knowledge circulates and is shaped would be enhanced through greater engagement with political ecology. The need to direct attention to different social contexts where environmental knowledge is continuously produced through its application, packaging, and circulation has been recognized by a number of STS scholars.
For example, Watson-Verran and Turnbull call on STS to move beyond a focus on production, to address the politics inherent in the circulation and application of Western science as a privileged knowledge system. They and others e. The exception to this is feminist STS scholarship, which has been invaluable in uncovering the various ways in which knowledge production, application, and circulation occurs in a world divided in various ways along lines of gender, class, ethnicity, and power.
As illustrated in the case described at the outset of this chapter, multiple knowledge claims are made about natural resources in different places around the world. As discussed earlier, a major conceptual problem that has plagued conventional treatments of environmental politics has been the treatment of knowledge as a product—a product that retains its form as it circulates among the different contexts of production and application.
In this volume, we seek to look beyond these boundaries to develop fuller understandings of a multi-sited and multi-actor environmental politics: a politics that is not constituted by isolated contestations int ro duct io n 15 among scientists over ideas, local stakeholders over resource access, and nations over control over markets or the media, but for which these realms are highly entangled. To effectively engage with this complexity, contributors to this volume seek to explore the connections among the development, application, and circulation of knowledge in environmental politics.
While their vantage points differ, the themes lying at the intersections of production, application, and circulation are similar and include: 1. The processes through which society and nature are co-produced: processes that are materially and discursively mediated through the activities of nonhuman and human members of the environment 3. There is a need to understand this broader arena of environmental politics—an arena that transcends the conventional foci of political ecology resource politics and STS science policy and practice within Western institutional settings. Such integration has already begun, taking on different shapes within political ecology and STS, and with promise for continued, more explicit exchange.
Therefore, the knowledge politics of conservation and development of most political ecology analyses remain contestations among fully formed knowledge claims. Anderson , The violence occurs materially to nature e. But the violence also occurs epistemologically by denying the legitimacy of other ways of knowing and managing nature. Turnbull while exposing valuable differences across knowledge traditions. More broadly, Jasanoff and Martello argue for the need to expand the range of knowledge sources contributing to global environmental governance.
Political ecology, through its emphasis on the power dynamics and material transformations associated with conservation and development, has long treated nature and society as interrelated and coevolved. Moore ; Neumann ; Zimmerer These treatments have emphasized that the relationship is constantly evolving through recursive historical processes. In this way, they share much with those of environmental historians e.
The power of these concepts has been recognized by scholars within, and loosely connected to, political ecology for some time e. These scholars, coming from 18 mar a j. Western science is seen as a strong contributor to these constructions but one that is far from insulated from broader political and economic interests.
Descriptions of these natural-social constructions have often relied on STS concepts such as hybridity e. Despite the strength of STS concepts for analyzing material objects as assemblages of nature, technology, and human management, these concepts have been less helpful for analyzing the often politically fraught processes of assemblage, hybridization, and construction. These limitations have been duly noted by some STS scholars. Greater collaboration among STS and political ecology scholars at the interface between knowledge production and application holds great promise for improved understandings not only of the hybridized objects but also of the role of environmental knowledges in the heterogeneous and power-laden processes contributing to such co-productions.
Yet certain knowledge productions carry more weight than others. While environmental narratives e. These questions have been asked in different ways by different STS scholars, and have provided invaluable tools for understanding not just the production of knowledge, but its subsequent circulation and then application.
Martin , ; J. Martin and Nakayama All these different tools—narratives, metaphors, translation, boundary objects, standardized packages, and bandwagons—provide insight into the varied ways that knowledge becomes information, ideas become fact, and objects become artifacts. They also provide a promising 20 mar a j. Callon and Rabeharisoa suggest the need to move beyond this focus to look at relations between scientists and nonscientists in the production and dissemination of knowledge.
At such interfaces, the tools discussed in this section prove incredibly helpful for understanding how knowledge becomes information, how information is shared and transformed, why certain knowledge constructs travel within and across different social worlds and policy arenas, and how collaboration can happen without consensus. Three major themes cutting across the parts are those discussed above: the multiplicity of environmental knowledges; the joint production of nature and society; and the packaging, transport, and translation of knowledge.
A major goal of this volume is to elicit critical engagement with these themes by the reader. Their contributions not only explore important theoretical issues int ro duct io n 21 that are raised when working at these interfaces but illustrate these ideas with empirically grounded case material. The chapters also provide useful and novel insights about method. Contributors provide important examples of how to study an environmental politics that cuts across the production, application, and circulation trichotomy.